By Jay Canterbury, President of the Fraternal Order of Police
Recently FBI Director Comey, who by the way has never served as a law enforcement officer, again made statements that I feel just do not meet the smell test
In February of this year, Director Comey made the following remarks about law enforcement.
Comey, who has held the FBI’s top post since 2013, said police officers should acknowledge the “widespread existence of unconscious bias.”
Comey speaking after Ferguson asserted that there is wide spread existence of unconscious bias in law enforcement and that that is what is causing a distrust between communities and their law enforcement officers. I reject this claim and again reiterate that when law enforcement is the only part of government that citizens see, we become the focus of community mistrust. When politicians use their police to deal with years of inequities and urban blight and do nothing to try to build a better life for their citizens, then it is them who have failed their citizens not the police who must deal with all of the issues without the support of their governing bodies.
We know that daily law enforcement is called on to reduce crime “for the quality of life” but that the underlying causes are not addressed the community cannot improve unless the social issues are addressed as well. When law enforcement is the only government representatives that a community sees we become the face of the enemy.
Many of us in Law Enforcement have been saying and will continue to say that the mistrust with Government starts at a much higher level and that the major issue and common denominator in communities that have trust issues is poverty.
Director Comey, we do know what’s going on in neighborhoods that mistrust law enforcement, because we are the only ones doing anything to help these communities.
In Chicago earlier this week, Comey again addressed a forum at the University of Chicago and in my mind and surprisingly in President Obama’s mind, blamed Law Enforcement for the uptick in violent crime. Here is a quote from Comey’s talk at the University of Chicago.
“On Monday, FBI director James Comey reiterated that the rise of violent crime in certain cities may be a result of less aggressive policing due to increased scrutiny of officers in the wake of recent high-profile police killings of black men”.
First and foremost people who break the law cause crime. Are police officers dealing with anxiety and stress over the lack of public support, absolutely but to blame the rise in crime on officer’s behavior is just not grounded in fact and is wrong.
Police officers have not stopped responding to calls especially high priority calls that involve violence and this is evidenced with the fact that thirty-two police officers have been killed by firearms already this year, doesn’t sound to me like law enforcement is not doing their jobs. Reductions in public contacts are more the result of less police on the street than it is on officers being reluctant to act.
Governments have as a result of high profiled incidents backed police off of doing their jobs. They have stopped preventive patrols, they have reduced the number of officers on the street and they have given orders as was evident in Baltimore for officers to disengage from people committing criminal acts. These are the reasons we are seeing a spike in violent crime along with the failure of government to address the real issue and that is the abject poverty that many Americans suffer from. It is my assertion that until the Governments of our jurisdictions acknowledge that Law Enforcement cannot fix failed neighborhoods by themselves, we will continue to suffer from mistrust.